China’s first autonomous container ship will enter service in October 2021. The 300 TEU vessel Zhi Fei will be deployed by the state-owned Shandong Port Shipping Group to shuttle between Qingdao’s main port and its sub-port Dongjiakou. The Zhi Fei is the first container ship serving China’s inland waterways to meet the criteria of unmanned autonomous navigation tests.
Construction of the Zhi Fei was assigned to Yangfan Group’s Qingdao shipyard. Its design was undertaken by Navigation Brilliance Technology, Shanghai Bestway Marine Engineering Design, Shanghai Marine Equipment Research Institute, Dalian Maritime University and the China Waterborne Transport Research Institute. Vessel construction was completed in June 2021 and sea trials were conducted later that month.
The Zhi Fei is fitted with intelligent navigation and advanced environmentally-friendly solutions that reduce emissions and noise, including an electric propulsion system. Operating the Zhi Fei will be an experiment for the future development of unmanned navigation in China.